Happy new year. It's a lovely Sunday summer day as I write this, just past noon and just before a bike ride.
The start of a new year is an interesting milestone. It always seems the natural time to take stock of things, and to reflect a bit on how things are unfolding. I enjoyed 2012, getting to know myself a bit better and settling into the solo groove. I don't know that I'll live on my own for the rest of my life, but recent months have made a powerful and positive impression on me. I have enjoyed reading some of the thinking on single living - from a discussion of how single urban dwellers in small apartments (that's me!) expand their version of 'home' to include their neighbourhood to the condemnation of being a single 30-something as evidence of my being either autistic or asexual.
I've passed through a milestone with my running, too, having clicked through the 1000km mark just before the end of December. I love running. Five years ago I would never have expected it would become a part of my life the way it has, but now I don't really think of it, I just do it.
Aspiration is a funny thing that way. Sometimes, the behaviour or state of mind that you long for so desperately at one point in your life, you stop thinking about as you get closer to achieving it, and it no longer seems important to you once you get there - but only because you're already where you wanted to be. If you weren't there, it would be painful to you that you weren't, but since you are, your mind has instead moved on to other things. For that reason then I think it's important to celebrate the successes, to note as we pass each rung on the ladder and say "hello rung, thank you for supporting first my initial grip, and then the weight of my body through my hand, and then eventually the weight of my body through my foot. Even though I'll be passing on, please remember my thanks for the part you have played in getting me where I'm going."
I find making and listening to DJ mixes helpful in recording where my thinking is at a given moment in time. Those of you who've been following my music over the years will know my mixes have always been a bit of a musical ' dear diary' for me. The ones I make just for my own listening are especially so. As Markus Schulz put it, 'if you want to not suck, make music for yourself only, and then see if others like it'. I'm paraphrasing, but that's what I took from the conversation. On this note, I'm going to start temporarily sharing some of my musical diary entries - live mixes capturing a mood or moment that I'll put up here with a quick note, available for download for a short period of time just for those who think they might be into such things. These will be selections from my stream of my own mixes, selected as potentially having wider appeal, but originally mixed just for for my commuting and fitness activities and for playing when I have company over. The first cab off the rank is Mix 241, Four Days Without Coffee. It's progressive house. No prizes for guessing when it was recorded.
I made it 32 days without coffee all in. It was an enlightening experience. The first weekend was eye-opening in terms of the extent to which caffeine acts as brain fuel for me, not for creativity but for thinking. This was further reinforced on the Saturday morning that I got back on the program. The notes from my diary that day:
Coffee, my first coffee in 32 days, and coming straight home I am glued to the keyboard refining how to approach my research into an area of critical interest to me. I would love to say that caffeine is useless, but I have experienced first hand its ability to lubricate one's intellectual equipment. Mine may be rusty and built to poor tolerances in the first place, but the coffee certainly has driven some of the best thinking I've done in as long as I can remember. (Of course, it may also be that I'm reading a particularly interesting book at the moment.)
I think it's important to test one's dependencies. What do you depend on? What do you really need in your life? What things are a part of your life that, if you could go back in time, you would sooner have avoided?
Having been single for the past year-ish, I've also had time to ask some of the bigger questions about what love and companionship means to me. I've read lots of interesting stuff - from books like Sex At Dawn and The Red Queen to newspaper articles like this one and this one. Does love have a use-by date? Does having things in common with your partner matter?
Max Graham once observed that every record you buy changes who you are as a DJ – your musical tastes can't help but evolve with every new song you fall in love with.
Similarly, I believe that every person you fall in love with changes who you are, and leaves you with things that stay with you for the rest of your life. Sometimes they leave you with scars, or with new habits of varying merit, and sometimes they leave you with a bit of Tupperware. Over time the internal sieve of reminiscence sifts through romantic memories, filtering out the bad ones – or most of them anyways – and rose-tinting the good ones, leaving a series of happy memories that can be drawn on on in times of reflection. Happy memories are well and good, but for me it’s the adopted idiosyncrasies that I draw the most meaning from. From the way I cook a certain food, the music I play or the clothes I wear, through to my own private anthropomorphisms, as I get older I realise that much of who I am is in part a reflection of the people that have come through my life.
Perhaps I'm stating the obvious. Either way, thanks for reading.
(This is the part where my mom starts to sing Willie Nelson's rendition of "To All The Girls I've Loved Before"...)